Teaching Presence Papers

The following articles which focus primarily on the teaching presence aspect of the Community of Inquiry are listed here in descending publication order (most recent at top).

Chen, B., deNoyelles, A., Zydney, J., & Patton, K., (2017). Creating a Community of Inquiry in large-enrollment online courses: An exploratory study on the effect of protocols within online discussions. Online Learning, 21(1), 165-188.

It can be difficult to foster focused and effective communication in online discussions within large classes. Implementing protocols is a strategy that may help students communicate more effectively, facilitate their learning process, and improve the quality of their work within online discussions. In this exploratory research study, a protocol was developed and improved over two iterations in a very large undergraduate video-streaming business course (N1=412; N2=450). The discussion instructions were consolidated and adjusted, and design elements such as a grading rubric, exemplary student samples, and due date reminders were added in the second iteration. There were higher perceptions of social, cognitive, and teaching presences in the second iteration, as well as significantly more group cognition within the discussion measured through a Community of Inquiry coding template. Findings suggest that protocols are a potentially useful strategy to manage online discussions in large classes.

Morueta, R. T., López, P. M., Gómez, A. H., & Harris, V. W. (2016). Exploring social and cognitive presences in communities of inquiry to perform higher cognitive tasks. Internet and Higher Education, 31, 122-131.

The purpose of the current study was to explore social and cognitive relationships among students when they are solving complex cognitive tasks in online discussion forums (self-regulated). An online course targeting interventions for risk behaviors was developed in the Virtual Campus of Andalusia, Spain. A total of 9878 units of meaning posted in 96 online discussion forums during three academic years (2010–11, 2011–12 and 2012–13) were analyzed through the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework. The degree to which online tasks at three different levels of cognitive demand (analyze, evaluate and create) triggered cognitive and social processes were examined. The results indicate that there was a specific increasing trend in the frequency of cognitive and social activity according to the requirement of the task. This study also found that the nature of the learning task modulated the different components of social and cognitive presence in these contexts.

Saadatmand, M., Uhlin, L., Åbjörnsson, L., & Kvarnström, M. (2017). Examining Learners’ Interaction in an Open Online Course through the Community of Inquiry Framework. European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 20(1), 61-79.

Open online courses are becoming more prevalent at local level and for and professional development objectives. Proper instructional design combined with use of online tools can promote learner interaction in online environments. Using the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework, this study aimed at examining learners’ interaction and their perceptions of teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence in an open online course offered for professional development in three Swedish universities. The course was free and open to all, attracting participants from all over the world. In order to understand the online interactions of the course, three presences of CoI were matched to three types of interaction (Moore, 1989). Data were collected through a slightly revised version of the CoI instrument and open-ended questions were added. Survey results showed that participants had high perceptions of the three presences in the course. Results also yielded significant relationships between teaching presence and cognitive presence, as well as social presence and cognitive presence. The findings suggest that deploying a set of online tools combined with appropriate pedagogical approaches in designing open online courses could foster learner interaction especially learner-content interaction and cognitive presence.

Zhang, H., Lin, L., Zhan, Y., & Ren, Y. (2016). The impact of teaching presence on online engagement behaviors. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 54(7), 887-900.

Guided by the Interactive-Constructive-Active-Passive framework, the purpose of the study was to investigate whether teaching presence would impact online learners’ passive, active, constructive, and interactive engagement behaviors. A total of 218 middle-school English teachers participated in an online professional development course. Quantitative data were collected from an online survey and the log files of the online course website. The results of the regression analysis revealed that, by controlling for the potential effects of the demographic variables, learners’ perceived teaching presence had a positive impact on their constructive and interactive engagement behaviors but not on their passive or active engagement behaviors. In light of these findings, implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed.

Szeto, E. (2015). Community of Inquiry as an instructional approach: What effects of teaching, social and cognitive presences are there in blended synchronous learning and teaching? Computers & Education, 81, 191-201.

Little research has been conducted to integrate teaching, social and cognitive presences as three instructional components of an instructional approach to contextualizing blended synchronous learning and teaching experiences. This qualitative case study reports the use of a community of inquiry instructional approach to exploring the effects of the presences on shaping the experiences of online and face-to-face students and their instructor. The students and instructor interviews, video recordings and class observations over an entire engineering drawing course were collected for data analysis with the use of a coding scheme derived from the presences. The findings revealed that attainment of the intended learning outcomes relied more on the teaching presence than on the social and cognitive presences of the approach. The instructor’s performance could bring about a leadership role of teaching presence as being more important than the social and cognitive presences in the engineering course. However, the instructional effects of the teaching, social and cognitive presences contributing to the blended synchronous learning and teaching mode were situational and context specific. Implications for further research are discussed.

Zhao, H., & Sullivan, K. P. H. (2017). Teaching presence in computer conferencing learning environments: Effects on interaction, cognition and learning uptake. British Journal of Educational Technology, 48(2), 538-551.

This exploratory study examined how the level and nature of teaching presence impacted two online forum discussions from three dimensions: participation and interaction, cognitive presence, and knowledge development via assimilating peer messages. Effects on participation and interaction were graphically depicted. Effects on cognitive presence and knowledge construction via assimilating messages were suggested via statistical analysis, followed by qualitative interpretations. Twenty-six tertiary online learners with varied demographic backgrounds participated in the study for 6 weeks. The results showed that the nature of teaching presence in the study, specified to teacher initiation, roles of teaching presence and means of making teaching presence, largely shaped the impact of teaching presence on learning. A higher level of teaching presence was observed to be associated with a lower level of student participation, peer interaction, cognitive presence and learning uptake. Based on the results, implications for integrating and researching teaching presence in computer conferences were provided.

Clarke, L. W., & Bartholomew, A. (2014). Digging beneath the surface: Analyzing the complexity of instructors’ participation in asynchronous discussion. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 18(3). Retrieved from: http://olj.onlinelearningconsortium.org/index.php/jaln/article/view/414/111 

Stenbom, S., Hrastinski, S. & Cleveland-Innes, M. (2012). Student-Student Online Coaching as a Relationship of Inquiry: An Exploratory Study from the Coach Perspective. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(5), 37-48.

There are comparatively few studies on one-to-one tutoring in online settings, even though it has been found to be an effective model. This paper explores student-student online coaching from the coach perspective. The empirical case is the project Math Coach, where K-12 students are coached by teacher students using instant messaging. This research is an adaptation of the community of inquiry model to an online coaching setting, which we refer to as a relationship of inquiry. The adapted model was used to gain a better understanding of the practice of online coaching by exploring the extent to which cognitive, social, and teaching presence exists in this case of online coaching. A relationship of inquiry survey was distributed to and answered by all active coaches (N = 41). The adapted cognitive, social and teaching presence measures achieved an acceptable level of reliability. Differences between three presences, and their respective sub-categories, demonstrate a unique pattern of interaction between coaches and coachees in the online coaching environment. Findings suggest the online inquiry model fits as well for a relationship of inquiry as it does for a community of inquiry. The model provides valuable information for better understanding of online coaching.

de la Varre, C., Keane, J. & Irvin, M.J. (2011). Dual Perspectives on the Contribution of On-Site Facilitators to Teaching Presence in a Blended Learning Environment, The Journal of Distance Education, 25(3).

This study examines on-site facilitator practices and activities that support rural high school students taking online courses. We compare online instructors’ perspectives of facilitator practices with facilitators’ own reports of their practices and activities. A qualitative analysis of end-of-course interview data from instructors and facilitators was undertaken. The resulting codes were mapped onto and used to expand the teaching presence element of the Community of Inquiry framework. Online instructors perceived that facilitating discourse was the core activity in which most facilitators engaged, with setting the climate for learning being a primary responsibility of the facilitator. However, facilitators themselves reported that as well as facilitating discourse, they engaged in direct instruction and instructional design. Additional findings, implications, limitations, and research directions are discussed.

Torras, M.E. & Mayordomo, R. (2011). Teaching presence and regulation in an electronic portfolio, Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 2284-2291.

Teaching presence provides conceptual coherence to construct, operationalise and interpret the regulation of online learning environments. Electronic portfolios contribute to the regulatory process moving from an internalisation to an external regulation. The aim of this research is to analyse the relationship between the techno-pedagogical design of an electronic portfolio (Transfolio), the teaching presence focused on the use of the tool and the student regulation processes. This study analyses the online teaching–learning processes supported by Transfolio of two post-graduate courses by focusing on the technopedagogical support and on the regulation process. The nature of our research objectives leads us to use a mixed methodology based on a naturalistic observation, content analysis and comparative statistics. Results show that the teaching–learning process is characterised by the patterns of co-regulation and self-regulation. Also, results show the importance of the techno-pedagogical support provided by the teacher, not only in regard to the nature of this instructional support but also concerning how it is presented to the student and the importance that is attributed to it in the teaching–learning process, that is, what it is that assistance is offered in.

Morgan, T. (2011). Online Classroom or Community-in-the-Making? Instructor Conceptualizations and Teaching Presence in International Online Contexts, The Journal of Distance Education, 25(1).

The community of inquiry framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000 ) has been an important contribution to the online distance education field and has been useful in providing researchers with the construct of “teaching presence”. Teaching presence as described by the framework provides insight into the types of interactions instructors make in online teaching, but is less useful in helping to understand the why’s of instructors’ interactive decisions. In this study, activity theory (Engestrom, 1999, 2001) was adopted as a theoretical framework to understand the why’s of teaching presence, revealing a complex negotiation between instructors as subjects and the mediating components of the activity system. The article suggests that a shift to understanding teaching presence within a sociocultural perspective has important implications for teaching and design, as well as the methodologies inherent in the community of inquiry framework. A sociocultural definition of teaching presence is provided in attempt to provide a broader understanding of this construct.

Swann, J. (2010). A Dialogic Approach to Online Facilitation. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(1), 50-62.

Social construction of understanding has long been a significant underlying principle of learning and teaching, and while there are many models for the design of online activities to promote this, there are considerably fewer models or the facilitation of such dialogue. This paper examines some of these facilitation models from the point of view of a university tutor seeking to encourage social construction of understanding through online dialogue, and proposes an alternative which extends the principles of community of inquiry theory. It unpacks conceptions of community and dialogue in the context of learning and teaching and describes a research project whose purpose is to develop and iteratively test a professional development intervention, which will help university tutors to facilitate a dialogic approach to learning online.

Shea, P., Vickers, J. & Hayes, S. (2010). Online Instructional Effort Measured through the Lens of Teaching Presence in the Community of Inquiry Framework: A Re-Examination of Measures and Approach. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 11(3).

With more than 4 million students enrolled in online courses in the US alone (Allen & Seaman, 2010), it is now time to inquire into the nature of instructional effort in online environments. Reflecting the community of inquiry (CoI) framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) this paper addresses the following questions: How has instructor teaching presence (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001) traditionally been viewed by researchers? What does productive instructor effort look like in an entire course, not just the main threaded discussion? Results suggest that conventional research approaches, based on quantitative content analysis, fail to account for the majority of teaching presence behaviors and thus may significantly under represent productive online instructional effort.

Bliss, C. A., & Lawrence, B. (2009). From posts to patterns: A metric to characterize discussion board activity in online classes.Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 13(2), 15-32.

Asynchronous text based discussion boards are included in many online courses, however strategies to compare their use within and between courses, from a disciplinary standpoint, have not been well documented in the literature. The goal of this project was to develop a multi-factor metric which could be used to characterize discussion board use in a large data set (n=11,596 message posts) and to apply this metric to all Mathematics courses offered in the January 2008 term by the Center for Distance Learning at Empire State College. The results of this work reveal that student participation rates, quantity of student posts, quality of student posts and the extent of threading are well correlated with instructor activity.

Ice, P., Curtis, R., Phillips, P. & Wells, J. (2007). Using Asynchronous Audio Feedback to Enhance Teaching Presence and Students’ Sense of Community. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(2), 3-25.

This paper reports the findings of a case study in which audio feedback replaced text-based feedback in asynchronous courses. Previous research has demonstrated that participants in online courses can build effective learning communities through text based communication alone. Similarly, it has been demonstrated that instructors for online courses can adequately project immediacy behaviors using text-based communication. However, we believed that the inclusion of an auditory element might strengthen both the sense of community and the instructor’s ability to affect more personalized communication with students. Over the course of one semester, students in this study received a mixture of asynchronous audio and text-based feedback. Our findings revealed extremely high student satisfaction with embedded asynchronous audio feedback as compared to asynchronous text only feedback. Four themes, which accounted for this preference, were culled out in an iterative, inductive analysis of interview data: 1. Audio feedback was perceived to be more effective than text-based feedback for conveying nuance; 2. Audio feedback was associated with feelings of increased involvement and enhanced learning community interactions; 3. Audio feedback was associated with increased retention of content; and 4. Audio feedback was associated with the perception that the instructor cared more about the student. Document analysis revealed that students were three times more likely to apply content for which audio commenting was provided in class projects than was the case for content for which text based commenting was provided. Audio commenting was also found to significantly increase the level at which students applied such content. Implications of this case study and directions for future research are addressed in the discussion and conclusions section of this paper.

Arbaugh, J. B., & Hwang, A. (2006). Does “teaching presence” exist in online MBA courses? The Internet and Higher Education, 9(1), 9−21.

 This paper assesses the construct validity of the dimensions of teaching presence, one of three types of presence articulated in Garrison, Anderson, and Archer’s [Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T., and Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and higher education, 2, 87–105.] Community of Inquiry model of online learning. Using items to measure these characteristics developed by Shea and colleagues [Shea, P.J., Fredericksen, E.E., Pickett, A.M., and Pelz, W.E. (2003). A preliminary investigation of teaching presence in the SUNY learning network. In J. Bourne and J.C. Moore (Eds.) Elements of quality online education: Practice and direction, 4, 279–312. Needham, MA: Sloan Center for OnLine Education.], a sample of 191 MBA students was used to test the posited model through a structural equation model. The results revealed that dropping some of the measurement items produced a stable model with good fit between the data and the model. This is one of the first studies to establish construct validity for the components of teaching presence, suggesting that it is a valid framework for studying online management education. It also points to the potential of the broader Community of Inquiry model for further research and application in online management education.

Shea, P., Li, C. S., & Pickett, A. (2006). A study of teaching presence and student sense of learning community in fully online and web-enhanced college courses. The Internet and Higher Education, 9(3), 175−190.

This paper focuses on two components of a model for online teaching and learning—“teaching presence” and “community”. It is suggested that previous research points to the critical role that community plays in academic success and persistence in higher education. Through a review of recent literature it is proposed that teaching presence–viewed as the core roles of the online instructor–is a promising mechanism for developing learning community in online environments. This investigation presents a multi-institutional study of 1067 students across 32 different colleges that further substantiates this claim. An instrument to assess instructor teaching presence (“The Teaching Presence Scale”) is presented and validated. Factor and regression analysis indicate a significant link between students’ sense of learning community and effective instructional design and “directed facilitation” on the part of course instructors, and highlights interesting differences between online and classroom environments. Alternative hypotheses regarding student demographics associated with variables such as age (the “net generation” effect) and gender are also examined. Despite recent assertions that younger students are or soon will be too sophisticated to “feel at home” in largely text-based asynchronous learning environments, no significant effects were found by demographic differences examined. Recommendations for online course design, pedagogy, and future research are included.


Kamin, C.S., O’Sullivan, P., Deterding, R.R., Younger, M., & Wade, T. (2006). Teaching Presence in Virtual Problem-based Learning Groups. Medical Teacher , 28(5): 425-428.

Interest in conducting problem-based learning (PBL) on-line has increased to meet student and physician
schedules. Little research describes skills needed to facilitate PBL on-line. In this paper we studied teaching presence in asynchronous PBL groups. Two raters, with average inter-rater agreements of 0.80, used an existing code to measure teaching presence in 62 PBL case discussions facilitated by one instructor over five years. This instructor was selected because of consistently high teaching evaluations. Messages sent by the instructor in the on-line PBL discussion were coded into three categories: instructional design and organization, facilitating discourse and direct instruction. Instructional design indicators were most frequent averaging 22.5 (SD¼5.6)/discussion. Facilitating discourse and direct instruction were comparable, 19.5(SD¼7.4) and 19.5 (SD¼6.7), respectively. Messages and indicators of teacher presence rose across time with a decline during subsequent PBL cases with the same group.

Shea, P., Pickett, A., & Pelt, W. (2003). A follow-up investigation of teaching presence in the SUNY Learning Network. Journal of the Asychronous Learning Network, 7(2).

This paper is a follow-up study to a preliminary investigation of teaching presence in the State University of New York Learning Network (SLN) [1]. In the present study we review ongoing issues of pedagogy and faculty development, and their relationship to student satisfaction, and reported learning in SLN. We provide an overview of the SLN program, and summarize a conceptual framework for our current research on higher education, online learning environments. This framework integrates research on how people learn [2], with principles of good practice in higher education [3] and recent research on learning in asynchronous learning networks (ALNs) in higher education [4]. We also present results of a follow-up study on one aspect of the model, “Teaching Presence”.

Pawan, F., Paulus, T., Yalcin, S., & Chang, C. (2003). Online Learning: Patterns of Engagement And Interaction Among In-Service Teachers. Language Learning & Technology, 7(3), 119-140

This study was conducted with the following objectives: (a) to analyze the patterns and types of collaborative interactions taking place in three online classes; and (b) to use these findings as a guide in the design of instructional interventions. Our goal is to understand the practice of collaborative teaching and learning so that assistance can be provided to support instructor efforts to include collaborative interactions in their courses. We used Garrison, Anderson, and Archer’s (2001) “practical inquiry” model as a framework for the study. Without instructors’ explicit guidance and “teaching presence,” students were found to engage primarily in “serial monologues.” Based on the findings, we propose three intervention strategies that may help instructors increase collaborative interactions in online discussions.

Anderson, T., Rourke, L., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing environment. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 5 (2).

This paper presents a tool developed for the purpose of assessing teaching presence in online courses that make use of computer conferencing, and preliminary results from the use of this tool. The method of analysis is based on Garrison, Anderson, and Archer’s model of critical thinking and practical inquiry in a computer conferencing context. The concept of teaching presence is constitutively defined as having three categories – design and organization, facilitating discourse, and direct instruction. Indicators that we search for in the computer conference transcripts identify each category. Pilot testing of the instrument reveals interesting differences in the extent and type of teaching presence found in different graduate level online courses.